Category Archives: IART
I wrote this post a long time ago but I recently saw where a tennis store was closing after many years of service to the community. I have NO idea if what I am writing about had anything to do with the closing but here it is:
Making a tennis racquet selection, and actually purchasing that racquet, has changed quite a bit in the last 15-20 years. Is that a good or bad thing? Well, I suppose it depends on who you ask, but from a tennis racquet specialist, it is a serious question.
It is no secret or great revelation that racquet manufacturers want to maximize their income and bottom line and what better way to do that than reduce the number of channels they need to manage!
Pretend for a moment that I am the CEO of XYZ Racquet Company and I can sell 75 to 85 percent of all my racquets to two or three online operations. Why wouldn’t I do that? These chosen outlets would be “house” accounts, so there is a minimal cost of sales, so no need for outside representatives, or all these in-house CSR’s!
I want you, the customer, to go to a local shop. You can see several racquets and discuss each in detail and get recommendations as to which racquet may be best for you. Great! Now the CEO wants you to hurry home jump online and order this racquet!
It sounds great to the CEO but what about you the customer?
Specialty racquet shops like Racquet Quest, LLC is in business to make this racquet the best purchase you can make! Here’s how.
A good shop will have knowledgeable tennis people there to help you.
A good shop will have a demo program.
A good shop will set up the demo as you will be using it. Yes, string and tension!
A good shop will take the time to help you make a good decision.
A good shop will be there for you if you need after -the -sale help.
A good shop will be able to correctly string the racquet of your choice.
And, all of this will probably be done at a reasonable price, which includes “sales tax”! Sales tax is the 800-pound gorilla in the room, and this gorilla has convinced some buyers that they can save big bucks by not paying sales tax. Sales tax is an amount you can see, so it is easily quantified. However, it is difficult to quantify the assistance you get from your local shop, that is until you take time to think about it.
There are many reasons to buy from a local source, but some areas of the country don’t have a “local” source. So here is what I would do.
Search for a qualified racquet technician as close to you as possible. Talk to them, and if you are satisfied, have the racquet you buy online drop shipped to them for preparation. They will be committed to a good job because they know you will send the racquet back to them if it is not done well!
The IART has a listing of qualified racquet technician…check it out here: IART
No, this is not about cheating! At least on-court cheating.
This is about cheating the players that have their racquets strung at tournaments!
Tournaments are tough enough on parents due to travel, scheduling, equipment, and racquet stringing. Many times the player must have a racquet, or racquets, strung during the tournament. If, and when, the racquets return to me I see, in too many cases, they are not getting their money’s worth! They are being cheated!
The problems range from poor workmanship, bad knots, cross-overs, to incredibly inconsistent string beds. Inconsistent string stiffness from side to side and generally too “soft” or “hard” string beds are common as well as serious racquet distortion.
Does this mean the player is going to loose? No, of course not,but it is not giving the player the best performance they, and their racquet, are capable of.
I know the cost of stringing at a tournament is generally not “too” high but not getting what you pay for is very expensive. These poorly strung racquets need to be re-done and that is an additive cost that makes playing tournaments even more expensive.
I urge that tournament directors, parents, and players demand better stringing at the tournament site. And, if the racquet is not properly done it should not be charged. The problem is the person picking up the racquet may not know if it is right or wrong, good or bad!
I know some of these “stringers” try very hard but they may not have equipment required to affect a really good result. Other “stringers” simply don’t know, or care about, what they are tasked to do. It shows!
Players: make sure your parents know you need racquets strung before you go to a tournament.
Parents: have as many racquets as possible prepared by your regular racquet technician before the tournament. This can actually save some money!
Players: don’t accept racquets that are not properly done. Don’t blame the racquet for poor performance if you accept it!
Parents: don’t pay for racquets that are not properly done. Let me know if you are not sure what to look for.
Parents: take at least three (3) racquets to every tournament.
Parents: if you think you are not getting the quality you deserve send me the tournament name and I will reach out to them and suggest they attend the Annual IART Symposium where all stringers learn how to do a better job…for you!
Many of you are familiar with the International Alliance of Racquet Technicians, or IART, but in case you missed it here is a brief history of IART.
Eight (8) years ago several racquet technicians, previously called “stringers” decided it was time to upgrade the status of those that provided outstanding racquet service to tennis players.
The way do do this, in our view, was a symposium with scheduled sessions and hands-on work shops to put into action what they had learned. Only racquet service professionals that were willing to share their knowledge were asked to participate as Session Leaders.
The first IART Symposium was held at T-Bar-M Tennis Ranch in New Braunfels, Texas! Yes, Texas! This symposium was attended by 21 racquet technicians from around the world.
Last week was the end of the Eight Annual IART Symposium which is now held at Saddelbrook Resort near Tampa, Fl, and was attended by sixty (60) racquet technicians from around the world. In addition to attendees there was a “trade show” presented by Alpha, Babolat, Bolt, Ereca, Dunlop, Gamma, Head, Prince, Wilson, Yonex, Y-Tex, and Tennis Machines. Acelon Strings, and Gosen Strings presented strings to all the attendees.
Each attendee received, randomly, a bag full of goodies including a professional racquet, string, wrist bands, grips and several other treats! Prince sponsored a “trivia” session with great participation and great prizes!
Wilson had their “Trackman” system setup on a court and invited anyone to hit and then view their strokes placement and several other results of their swing. This equipment is very high tech and was enjoyed by all attendees. New, yet to be introduced racquets, were available to hit with and give immediate feed-back to the company representatives that were there.
The four (4) day symposium was a giant success.
Why am I telling you all of this? This is why! I want to have more consumer representation at the symposium. Consumers rule our business and have a great deal of influence on what we do, believe it or not! While the racquet technician is a valuable resource when selecting racquets, string, tension, and all other things that make your racquet play it’s best, it is you, the consumer, that make demands that we may not typically experience.
These demands cause us to re-evaluate how we do our jobs, and, without you, tennis players, we have no jobs!
What can I do to get you more involved?